With news about inflation, the rising cost of living, and now the FTX crashing, it’s plausible that many people are concerned for their livelihoods and may be experiencing anxiety and loss.
The Mental Health Navigator was recently approached with concerns about the effect financial crises and hard times might be having on the mental health of members of the Effective Altruism community.
We, the authors, have therefore put together this small post to
- bring attention to some mental health resources available to anyone experiencing a hard time (Resources section below), and
- attempt to form a peer support network for people who would like to give and get support from their EA peers, in 1:1s and maybe small groups (access Slack Effective Peer Support, add yourself as a voluntary experienced supporter in this sheet).
Furthermore, we are here to encourage anyone experiencing challenging circumstances to not give up and to get the support they need. Sometimes, terrible things happen and life knocks you down. Do not give in to these moments or circumstances. You are needed, your efforts are worthwhile, and you do have a community that supports you.
Crisis helplines are there for you when you need immediate support and don’t know who to turn to, or maybe feel like there’s not anyone you can turn to. They’re confidential, free of charge, and often available 24/7. And they typically also provide support over online chat if speaking to someone over the phone isn’t really your thing.
Therapy Route has provided an article that lists helplines, crisis lines, and suicide hotlines for 176 countries (so nearly every country in the world).
A potentially more up-to-date list is that provided in this Wikipedia article, which provides suicide crisis lines in 93 countries when I last checked.
- If you’re based in the UK, an excellent crisis support line that we can personally vouch for, as it has helped one of us before, is that provided by Samaritans. Their number is 116 123.
- If you’re based in Ireland, you might find Pieta House helpful. They offer crisis hotline, text line, and in-person counseling to people affected by suicide.
- If you’re based in the US, Lifeline provides nationwide free and confidential support 24/7. Their number is 988.
Resources for tackling future worries, anxiety, and grief
Some online resources can help in dealing with current issues and in building resilience. We collected some examples for you:
- Option B, inspired by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s book Option B, is an online resource for navigating hardship and finding a way forward when experiencing loss. It provides information for people looking for ways to care for themselves, care for others, and navigate grief.
- Mind is a UK-based mental health organization. It provides support guides for and information on all kinds of mental health experiences, including grief and worries about money.
- The NHS offers a wide range of material for self-help, for coping with money worries and job uncertainty, anxiety and fear, grief or loss, money, work, housing and discrimination, among others.
- If you’d like to have assistance calming your mind on a daily basis, you can also try out apps such as Mindease or Calm, an app providing you with all sorts of exercises to tackle worries and anxiety.
The Mental Health Navigator lists several other support services in our data bank as well, and we are working on adding more, and trying to ensure we have a greater diversity of resources across multiple countries currently underrepresented.
If you are reading this post and would like to add resources you have found helpful in the past, please leave them in the comments below. You never know who your recommendation might help.
Supporting your peers
There are a few ways to support your peers in the EA community, and the range of possibilities is growing.
For starters, you can share your experiences and support your peers in their experiences via the Effective Altruism Peer Support group on Facebook. The group allows for anonymous submissions if you prefer to share something anonymously.
You can do the same in the new Effective Peer Support Slack explained below and also find experienced helpers there that are up for having 1:1s with you. If you have experience supporting others, you can enter and add yourself as an experienced helper in this sheet.
If you want training to feel comfortable supporting your peers, you may want to consider looking into Mental Health First Aid training or peer support training.
- Mental Health First Aid training provides you with the tools to be able to help someone experiencing an acute crisis and get them the support they require. More information on Mental Health First Aid training and links to Mental Health First Aid training programs worldwide is available on the Mental Health First Aid International website.
- You can train yourself to become a certified peer supporter at SevenCups Academy for free. This includes courses that listeners can take to better understand life issues, psychological challenges, and ways to help.
You can also join a peer support group through Effective Peer Support, which is still accepting applications for peer support groups planned to start around the end of this year and early next year. More information and the sign-up form are in this EA Forum post.
The EA CoWorking Discord Server is also a great place for feeling a sense of community and reminding yourself that you’re not alone.
Effective Peer Support Network
The Mental Health Navigator has been approached with the idea of creating a peer support network. Rethink Wellbeing with Effective Peer Support offered to help out with this. In its usual form, Effective Peer Support will match peers based on needs and preferences, and let them train psychological skills in an organized and facilitated way. Due to the current emergency, we want to already provide an accessible support infrastructure before we can offer that. Sometimes all you need is a listening ear, motivating words, or ideas from someone who can relate to you. For this reason, the Mental Health Navigator and Rethink Wellbeing have set up an Effective Peer Support Slack.
This Slack will hopefully become a space where you can connect with like-minded peers, and trained peer supporters to connect and talk about your current situation.
The way this will work is that the #peer-support channel will be a place where you can post about what you’re going through and request support. Your peers will be able to respond by saying they are going through something similar or offering support as a trained helper. If you would like to anonymously make use of this peer support network, you can stay anonymous by simply using an email address without your name in it, and then choosing a nickname.
The #trained-helpers channel will be for people who are trained in peer support, and will serve as a place for you to connect with others trained in peer support. This is for you if you are someone who has professional experience or who has been trained in mental health first aid, such as through volunteering at a crisis center. We invite you to join this channel and add your information to the Trained Peer Support Helpers table pinned at the top of the #general channel.
The #general channel will be a space for the Slack admins to make announcements, and of course, there might be specific closed subgroups for peers going through similar situations. Feel free to suggest your ideas.
Note of use
Please note that anyone who participates in the Effective Peer Support Slack is responsible for his, her, or their own well-being. This Slack channel is set up to provide faster access to community support. It is not an emergency service or a professional listening service, though mental health professionals might add themselves to the list of peer support helpers. Anyone who is experiencing an emergency should reach out to an emergency number or a crisis line.
If you have any questions about this initiative, please reach out to Emily via firstname.lastname@example.org or Inga via email@example.com.